Last night, right before bed, I had a thought, and quickly scribbled it in my phone.
Here is the gist.
In life, you have actions and expectations. And they're related.
If you don't work and don't expect progress, then you're just lazy. You'll be content to live in your parents' basement and never accomplish anything. Your effort extends just enough to stay amused with distractions till you eventually die, quickly to be forgotten.
If you work and expect no progress, then you're defeated. You'll live your days as a small cog in a much bigger machine that doesn't care about you or your contribution. There is no hope or light. Life sucks, and then you die.
If you don't work and still expect progress, you're entitled. You think the world owes you by birthright. You haven't done anything to merit this reward, and will be very disappointed with whatever fortune befalls you, good or bad. You, precious little gem, always deserve better. In squalor or splendor, you'll live dissatisfied till you die.
If you work and expect progress... well, that's the sweet spot. Of course progress doesn't come easy, but when has anything worthwhile been easy? You expect your efforts to pay off, and eventually, through sheer grit and determination, they do. When the day comes for you to leave this world, you'll be warmly remembered, missed, and those left will be better for the life you lived.
This is how every great man and woman has ever lived. Greatness doesn't come any other way.
And here's the real kicker; Happiness doesn't come any other way either.
If you want to be happy, and you want to do something meaningful in your life, there is only one way.
Happiness and greatness are found in exertion in causes you firmly believe are greater than yourself . Anything else falls short.
Find what you believe, work hard, and be happy.
NOTE: This bears some similarity to Peter Thiel's Optimist/Pessimist—Definite/Indefinite matrix. He was thinking about nations, I'm thinking of individuals.